MJ & Its Affect on Sleep
I figured this is something that should be discussed, as now that there are so many states legalizing it, whether for recreational or medical use. I currently live in Washington state, so MJ is completely legalized for anyone 21+. I've had the non-official diagnosis of N w/Cataplexy. It's my C that gave the diagnosis and it helped me qualify for the better meds with my insurance. I've had two MSLTs since 2012.
The first MSLT I had no problems. I slept heavily through the night, with NO sleep apnea. Followed instructions for the naps. I fell asleep within an average of 3 minutes for each nap. But the test showed I never hit REM. Not at all. My sleep specialist was sure that I have N (I wasn't exactly aware of my C in 2012, but it really became a problem since 2014), but he couldn't give me that official diagnosis until I had a full positive MSLT. Instead, he diagnosed me with IH.
My last and most recent MSLT (I took one in November 2015), the entire test was compromised because of construction they were doing to the facility. So, I can't exactly use that test. But for both tests, I never hit REM. Not that the results were odd, but it encouraged me to do some of my own research on substances that could potentially inhibit REM sleep, as both my sleep specialist and my neurologist are fairly certain I have N.
Upon researching thoroughly, I have found that there were several substances I was using just hours prior to the test. And there's one specific substance that I use (for other medical reasons) fairly heavily: MJ. The first MSLT I had quit everything for at least 15 days, but slowly, and only occasionally, I would smoke cigarettes. I did smoke cigarettes the day of my first MSLT. Prior to the second MSLT, I was told by my sleep/neuro doc that I only needed to lay off the MJ for at least two days prior. But I had smoked several cigarettes again on the day of my most recent/last test (even though I don't technically smoke cigarettes anymore) and I had a heavy amount of THC in my system, as I'm a HEAVY user. Both the nicotine in cigarettes, and the cannabinoids in MJ are REM suppressants, and I had used both prior to the tests.
While researching I discovered several important facts about MJ on sleep:
1) MJ reduces REM sleep significantly (hence never hitting REM on my MSLTs).
2) MJ encourages deep sleep/Stage 3.
3) When withdrawing from MJ, a majority of people experience heightened levels of REM.
I felt the need to share this information, because I bet there are others out there who have substances they use regularly that limit REM sleep and keep them from a correct diagnosis. I know that both my sleep specialist and my neurologist don't know enough about MJ and it's affect on sleep. They do know about nicotine and alcohol, but there just isn't enough information and studies out yet. I've included some quick links below. Feel free to do your own research!
Ultimately, in theory, if MJ suppresses REM, despite it's encouragement of sleepiness, it could be used as a safer, natural, and healthier treatment option for N. I really hope that they can find out more about this, so that everyone, everywhere with N can have access to a much better form of treatment. Felt like this information was worth the share!